Living in Shanghai

Shanghai, the most exciting city to live in now, is capable to provide you a simulating yet revitalizing lifestyle here. This city wittily blends the mysterious oriental temples and alleys with the modern and glamorous skyscrapers together, adds the classy while historical colonial buildings as the final touch, and presents the charming,complex and sophisticated essence of China. Brand new fancy shopping malls will satisfy your need for first-hand high street fashion, fine cozy shops in the ex-French Concession display the one-of-a-kind items which you might have been longing for, your life in Shanghai will be granted and secured by millions of convenience stores and international supermarkets. Got a thing for antiques? Shanghai is also the place to search for the beautiful arty pieces to decorate your room and wardrobe. 

Shanghai is not just simply a Chinese city, but a melting pot which gathers visitors from all around the world. Countless restaurants, cafes, bars and clubs here might not be able to heal your homesickness, but,  fancy a bite of tapas? The most authentic paella awaits; missing good cheese? Weekend farmers’ markets open; can’t live without Nasi Goreng? Indonesian is the most in southeastern cuisine after Thai and Vietnamese; sticking to being a vegetarian? Shanghai has the most amazing vegetarian kitchen in both western and zen ways. 

Want to do as the Romans do? Little restaurants which provide a large variety of food from all over China, noodles, dumplings, barbecues only to name a few will keep your meal list full and your nightlife as an all-nighter fun. And don't worry about not being able to speak Mandarin, more and more Chinese are aware of the importance of grasping English as a second language to minimize barriers with the 250,000 foreigners living in Shanghai—you get English menu even without having to ask in restaurants, and even the cashier at supermarkets speak simple English. 

16 lines of subways, fast trains and buses, safe and tidy neighborhoods, you shall be able to fully enjoy your stay and travel in Shanghai.

As in Paris, we do not have dorms available. But housing in Shanghai is available at a wide variety of different prices depending on districts and conditions of the building. Living alone can be quite affordable but finding roommate(s) with whom to share a flat is easy and convenient especially for those staying less than 1 year in Shanghai. A few weeks before the beginning of your course we will introduce to you your classmates. This will allow you to get acquainted and possibly find suitable housing together. Below are websites that list possible accommodation for students in Shanghai.
Shanghai is a huge city with plenty of available apartments, so we strongly suggest you to first find out about its different districts and which area you prefer to live in. Idealy, about 2 weeks before arriving in Shanghai, you shall start contacting people advertising on those websites to set up appointments. Generally speaking, most students are able to find housing within a few days. Please note it is not required for students to show proof of residence for their student visa so there is no rush in signing the housing contract before you arrive in Shanghai. However, upon entry, students should be aware of their intended hotel/housing address for immigration purposes and immediate application for student visas. For those who are not able to find housing through websites, we can introduce them to English speaking real estate agents upon their arrival who can assist them to find suitable housing effectively and efficiently. 
For those who decide not to live around the school, there are 2 subways lines (Line 2 and 10) with stations (Loushanguan Road and Shuicheng Road) nearby the school. We strongly advise students to live close to stations on either of these two lines. 
Download Shanghai Metro maps here.

Nearby the school expect to pay for a 1 bedroom apartment about 4,500 to 6,500rmb a month and about 3,000 to 4,500rmb if you share with roommates.

In the ex-French Concession and Jingan district expect to pay for the same apartment 5,500 to 9,000rmb and about 4,000 to 6,000rmb if you share with roommates. This price range also allows you to live around Zhongshan Park, Xujiahui or People Square area.

For those looking for a similar price range nearby the school, search nearby Laoximen south of People Square, Sichuan North Road, south of Jianguo Road in the ex-French Concession or north of Beijing Road in Jingan District. 

While we teach in English at IFA Paris, the main languages talked on the street of Shanghai are Mandarin and Shanghai dialect.  While a growing number of foreigners are able to communicate in Chinese, most of them depend on English. In the downtown area, most restaurants, cafes, bars will have English menus and generally staff working at venues should be able to speak it. Useful link:

Every non-Mainland student needs to obtain a student visa to enter China. IFA Paris assists students with further information regarding visas following one’s admission.

Student visas can be obtained from overseas or after entering China. Most foreign nationals can obtain a visa quite easily, however there is a list of around 20 countries which may be refused entry into the country.
For administrative reasons and efficiency, the best option is to arrive in Shanghai with a tourist visa. The school will then help students to apply for a student visa with the support of our local partner university. The process of obtaining a student visa can take up to 1.5 month so we suggest you to take a 3-month tourist visa. If you get a shorter tourist visa, you will be able to renew it in Shanghai if needed until the study visa is completed.

Housing*                                             5,000 RMB
Food **                                               3,000 RMB
Transportation***                                 350 RMB
Utilities                                               350 RMB
Entertainment****                                1,000 RMB
School materials undergraduates          300-800 RMB
School materials graduates                  100 RMB
* Depending on where in the city and with or without roommates.
** Breakfast and some meal cooked at home, local mid-level Chinese restaurant and weekend cheap foreign restaurants.
*** Mostly subway with some taxi rides.
**** Weekend activities like karaoke, clubbing, concerts, theatre, etc.
Please note that all costs are estimations and a lot will depend on one’s own spending habits and living standards

IFA Paris requests students to purchase health insurance as international level hospital services in Shanghai can be quite expensive. 

Shanghai is a big city by any standard. Public transportation are quite developed (bus and subway) and taxis are relatively cheap.

Downtown Shanghai is an extremely easy and comfortable city to commute around even on foot. Today, there are 16 subway lines that can bring you almost anywhere around town. Buses may be a better solution once in a while, but while they are even cheaper than riding the subway, without any Chinese skills, it may be a difficult to handle. Another very good solution is by taxi. They are widely available and are considered relatively low cost  in comparison to western countries. Finally, many foreigners may choose to ride electric scooters or bicycles as an even cheaper and convenient way to move around.

It is officially illegal for foreign students to work in China.